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We’re sharing some bread you’ll just loaf for #RealBreadWeek!

This recipe is included in Slow Dough: Real Bread by Chris Young, it was contributed by Ursi Widemann. Here’s what she said: “I love pretzels! I could eat them every single day . . . maybe it’s because I’m Bavarian”.

Pretzels are usually dipped in a solution of sodium hydroxide (lye) prior to baking, which gives them their characteristic taste and shiny brown skin. As food-grade sodium hydroxide can be hard to obtain and is hazardous to handle, this recipe uses bicarbonate of soda/baking soda instead, which gets you safely toward a similar result.

 

Taken from Slow Dough: Real Bread

 

Makes: 12
From mixing to oven: 12–16 hours
Baking time: 15–20 minutes

Ingredients
For the pre-ferment:
125g/4½oz/¾ cup plus 2 tbsp wholemeal/wholewheat bread flour
20g/1½ tbsp rye sourdough starter
100g/3½oz/½ cup minus 1 tbsp water
For the dough:
375g/13oz/223 cups white bread flour
25g/1oz/2 tbsp butter
8g/1½ tsp fine/table salt
160g/5¾oz/23 cup water
For dipping:
1kg/2lb 4oz/4¼ cups water
20g/heaping 1½ tbsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
For the topping:
coarse sea salt flakes or crystals, or you could use sesame seeds, poppy seeds or caraway seeds

Method
1
Mix the pre-ferment ingredients together, cover and leave at room temperature for 8–12 hours until bubbly.
2 Mix the dough ingredients with the pre-ferment, and knead until you have a firm but supple dough: tighter than usual, but if it really is too stiff to work, add a little more water. Put the dough into a bowl, cover and leave to rise at room temperature for a further 3 hours, giving the dough a single fold halfway through this time.
3 Divide the dough into 12 equal-size pieces (65g/2¼oz), roll into balls, cover and leave for 20 minutes, then roll each piece into a strand about 25cm/10in long that tapers at the ends with a little belly in the middle. Bend each strand into a “U” shape, cross one side over the other about halfway up, give it a twist where they cross, then fold the ends up to meet the bend of the U and press down gently to fix in place. Cover the dough and leave to prove for 45–60 minutes.
4 Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment and heat the oven to 230°C/210°C fan/450°F/gas 8. Meanwhile, bring the water to the boil in a large pan and add the bicarbonate of soda/baking soda. Drop the pretzels into the boiling liquid 2 or 3 at a time for 20 seconds, lift out with a slotted spoon and place onto the baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the topping of your choice while the dough is still tacky. Slash the dough at its fattest part and bake for 15–20 minutes until deep brown.

Happy baking! Don’t forget to tag us in your posts – #NourishBooks AND #RealBreadWeek!

Welcome to #SourdoughSeptember! We’re so excited to join the 2020 #LockdownLoafers in baking and creating artisanal sourdough this month. Of all the things the pandemic brought forth, bread is a strong favourite here at Nourish HQ.

To get the celebrations started, we’re sharing this Fig and Fennel Sourdough recipe from Slow Dough: Real Bread by Chris Young – to join in and make some Real Bread, you can get your copy of the book here!

 

Fig and Fennel Sourdough, taken from Slow Dough: Real Bread

 

Makes: 1 large loaf
From mixing to oven: overnight plus 5 hours
Baking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the pre-ferment:
100g / 3 and a 1⁄2oz / scant 1⁄2 cup white sourdough starter
75g / 2 and a 1⁄2oz / 1⁄2 cup plus 1⁄2 tbsp white bread flour
75g / 2 and a 1⁄2oz / scant 1⁄3 cup water
For the dough:
350g / 12oz / 2 and a 1⁄2 cups white bread flour
150g / 5 and a 1⁄2oz / 1 cup wholemeal / wholewheat bread flour
300g / 10 and a 1⁄2oz / 1 and a 1⁄4 cups water
10g / 1 heaping tbsp green fennel seeds
10g / 2 tsp fine / table salt
175g / 6 and a 1⁄4oz / scant 1 and a 1⁄4 cups quartered dried figs

Method

1. Mix the pre-ferment ingredients together thoroughly, cover and leave at room temperature for 12–14 hours (typically overnight).
2. To make the dough, add both flours with the water and fennel seeds to the pre-ferment, and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for 20–30 minutes.
3. Mix in the salt and knead for a few minutes. Cover and leave to rest at room temperature for another 30 minutes.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle. Distribute the figs evenly over half the dough, then fold the other half over them, pressing the edges together to seal. Roll the dough out again, fold in half and roll out once more. If the figs are not evenly distributed, repeat the process but be careful not to mush them up completely.
5. Shape the dough into a ball, cover and leave to prove at room temperature for 1 hour.
6. Give the dough a single fold, cover and leave to prove for another 2 hours, or until almost doubled in size.
7. Dust a proving basket well with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape to fit the basket. Place the dough seam-side up in the basket, cover and leave to prove at room temperature for 1 hour.
8. Heat the oven to 230°C/210°C fan/450°F/gas 8, with a baking stone or baking sheet in place. Turn the dough out onto a peel and slide it onto the baking stone. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas 6 and bake for a further 20 minutes, checking halfway through that it is not browning too quickly.

Happy Baking! Why not upload a #SourdoughSelfie tag @RealBreadCampaign and @NourishBooks on Instagram!

So you’ve got a little bit of time, and you’d like to make some bread. You love sourdough, but everyone talks about these mysterious ‘sourdough starters’ and you don’t have one of those.

Well, fear not! It is actually very simple to make a sourdough starter, and Chris Young, author of Slow Dough: Real Bread is here to talk you through it. All you’ll need is a bit of patience.

A plastic container with a lid is convenient for storage because if your starter gets frisky, the lid
will simply pop off, whereas a glass jar with a screwtop or metal clip seal could crack or shatter. The amount of flour you use isn’t important so we’ve started small, as instructions that tell you to throw portions of your starter away just seem wasteful. Please keep to the 1:1 ratio, though.

Daily: days one to five (ish)

30g/1oz/3½ tbsp rye flour

30g/1oz/2 tbsp water (at about 20°C/68ºF)

On each of the first five days, put equal amounts of flour and water into your container, mix, close and leave at room temperature (about 20°C/68°F) for 24 hours between each addition.

For the first few days, the mixture might seem lifeless and could smell vinegary or even a bit “off”. Don’t worry about this, as it should soon start bubbling and the smell will develop into something yeasty and maybe even floral. 

Day six (ish)

Once your starter is bubbling up nicely, you can use some to bake a loaf of Real Bread. Typically, this might be anything from four to seven days after you started, but could take a little longer. If it’s not bubbling by day six, keep repeating the daily flour and water addition until it is. Don’t worry if you end up with a layer of brownish liquid. This is just gravity working its magic and is normal. Either stir it back into your starter or pour it off. If your starter hasn’t been used for a while, the second option is probably better as the liquid (sometimes known as “hooch”) will have started to become alcoholic, which can slow the starter down and may also lead to less desirable flavours in your bread.

Caring for Your Starter

• Each time you use some of the starter, simply replace with an equivalent quantity of flour and water – this is usually known as feeding or refreshing. You also need to refresh on the day before a baking session.

• When refreshing, feel free to experiment with different ratios and total amounts of flour to water: a looser starter will ferment more quickly than a stiff one; refreshing more often or adding a large refreshment will dilute the taste and acidity.

• It’s a living thing (well, technically billions of living things) so get to know it. The acidity, flavour, aromas and speed at which starters work vary, so learn what’s normal for yours.

• Give it a name. You can’t call yourself a proper sourdough nut if you don’t – though I know some people strongly disagree with me on this one!

• Forget it. Unlike other members of your household, your starter will be forgiving of neglect. Though it will be happy to help you bake bread once a week or even daily, your starter can be left untouched at the back for the refrigerator for weeks or even months. The yeast and bacteria populations will decline over time but enough will live on in a dormant state. The longer you leave it, the longer it’ll take to “wake up” though and it might need a few days of refreshments before it’s up to full vigour.

• Unless you are using your starter every single day, keep it in the fridge, which will slow it down and reduce the frequency at which you need to refresh it. You just need to remember to take it out and refresh it the day before you intend to make a loaf.

 

To Convert Your Starter to Wheat

Although you can use the rye starter for wheat breads, you might prefer to convert it by replacing the rye flour in refreshments with wheat flour (white or wholemeal/wholewheat) until it is all wheat. Alternatively, you can use wheat flour from the word go: again, wholemeal/wholewheat will give you a better chance of success. Whether you keep separate rye, white wheat, wholemeal/wholegrain wheat, and even other starters on the go, or just one, is up to you.

Slow Dough: Real Bread is available now as an ebook or in hardback